I don't know how to describe 2018, other than to say it was one of the strangest real estate years of my life. Reflecting on the year that was, I find myself looking back on a year of joy and of love, of love lost, frustration and disappointment, teamwork and comradery, and of pure bewilderment. Our numbers were down just a bit from 2017. Part of me isn't surprised at all by this, but the other part of me can't believe our business didn't grow. This was the first year we didn't grow in 4 years, and I thought we had the systems and people in place to ensure success. But things don't always work out the way you plan them. That was my biggest lesson from 2018 - that, and you can never take anything for granted.
2018 got off to a slow start because I allowed myself and my staff to slack at the end of 2017. We spent an absurd amount of time on things like our office door decorating contest, instead of focusing on running the business. My wife was also 7 months pregnant, with our first child due in February. To say this was distracting me a little would be a colossal understatement. Prepping for our new addition was all I could think about, and I allowed myself to be pulled away from the business. Baby prep mode carried through January and early February until on February 9th, my baby girl, Elena was born. My life, and my business, would forever be changed. I had never been happier, and was prepared to be the best father I could. I was putting the pieces in place to keep the business running at a high level even while stepping away a bit and allowing other people to step in and take over for me. Then we ran into our first, of several, crazy transactions and life situations of the year.
Editor's Note: I originally wrote a very, very long post elaborating on each of these events. At a certain point, it got so long I realized this blog would better served if each were broken out into their own post with lessons learned from each. So look out for more on these in the future. But for now, let's take a quick look at the positives and negatives from the year.
-Had a baby! As previously mentioned, Elena was born on February 9th. She's super chunky and is the best.
-Hired Amanda. Amanda joined as our team buyer's agent, and got off to a rockin start. She's been a great addition to the team!
-Helped 36 people buy and sell homes. A little short of where we wanted to be, but along with helping close friends buy and sell their homes, we made new friends that I'm very proud to have worked with.
-Referred 2 people to excellent agents in other areas. One aspect of my business I don't mention enough is that I can help you find an amazing agent anywhere in the country. With my help, we can make sure your buying or selling experience, regardless of location, is absolutely top notch.
-VA Appraisal came in $18,000 low on a purchase. This was absolutely crazy and flat out killed the deal. The appraiser wouldn't work on the value with us at all. VA appraisers, by the way, are the worst.
-Seller wouldn't accept the deal I told him he'd get when we listed his townhouse. He apparently didn't understand what I meant about seller providing closing cost assistance. It was factored into the numbers we looked at that he said he'd accept. By the time he came around, the buyer found another place and moved on. Values in neighborhood have since plummeted
-Amanda's boyfriend unexpectedly passed away. This was an absolute tragedy that I'll probably never expand on. It came out of nowhere and as a team we never recovered.
-Seller of a home died 5 days before scheduled closing. I had an elderly client selling her house to pay for nursing care. She wasn't well to begin with, but fell ill one day and died several days later. By the time the house made it through probate the heirs decided to list the house with another agent for 22K more than I had it listed for. The logic behind that is a mystery I may never solve.
-Lost a deal due to home sale contingency. We had a client write an offer contingent on the sale of his home. The seller received a second, non-contingent, better offer a couple weeks later and took it. Our client lost the house. This is the first time that's ever happened to me. Subsequently, he fired me from listing his house. The strange part was this was several weeks later and felt he was being lied to, and owed money. It was absolutely insane. First time I've ever been straight up fired.
-USAA (who is terrible) deal took 90 days to eventually get denied. We had a listing in Denbigh where the day before closing we found out USAA had completely messed up the loan and had to start over again. 60 days after that, we find out that they couldn't use most of the buyer's income because of how it shows on his paystub and they denied the loan. We wasted an absurd amount of time. Fortunately, we sold the house again a few weeks later, but after a 5K price reduction.
-Title problem with wife of old owner who got divorced and didn't sign deed delayed closing over a month. An investor client of ours bought a foreclosure, and at that time a title error was missed. It was caught on the sale though, and we had to track down the former owner's (the one who got foreclosed on) ex-wife and get her to sign the deed in Texas. We were unbelievably fortunate to track her down and it was extremely cool of her to help out. She could have just said no. If she had, our investor would now own a rental property for the rest of his life.
I'm sure I'm missing something, but I think that's enough for one year. I know I had a townhouse in Hampton I had to sell twice, but it was during such a busy time of the year, the specifics are a blur. It's now the end of 2018 and reflection, for me at least, always brings motivation. I'm excited for 2019, where my business is, and my personal life. I have an amazing family and friends, and am surrounded by great people every day. I know I'll be making changes in the year to come, both within my company and various aspects of my life that will enable my personal and professional growth. So cheers to 2019. It's going to be a good one.